Culture is a right and not a privilege . With this motto tattooed on the forehead and forearms, the Barcelona City Council has designed a pioneering plan aimed at recognizing and consolidating the cultural rights of citizens through a hundred specific actions, to be carried out in the next two years (until 2023 ), which combine the dual purpose of reactivating the cultural sectors, depressed after more than a year of pandemic, and fighting against inequalities.
The ambition of the Fem Cultura plan, which has been presented by the mayor Ada Colau and which will reach the plenary session of the council on April 30, goes beyond the local framework, since it aspires to become an international reference that encourages the appearance of similar initiatives in other cities of the world and paves the way for the formal recognition of cultural rights on a global scale.
The right to culture is already present in normative texts such as the Spanish Constitution or the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia, but, as noted by the Deputy Mayor for Culture, Education, Science and Community, Joan Subirats , “it is part of that group of rights that are not considered enforceable ”.
The will of the new municipal plan is, therefore, to “change that status” and equate the right to culture with other fundamental pillars of the welfare society born in the 20th century, such as the right to health and the right to education. Shield it, in short.
A necessary transformation
“We need culture to have a dignified and full life, to be autonomous and critical citizens,” said Colau, who highlighted that the municipal administration is the one that allocates the most resources to culture (6% of the total budget, compared to 1% of the Generalitat).
The mayor recalled that the plan comes in a context of global health crisis that has left much of the city’s cultural fabric in a very precarious situation and that has highlighted that “it is not possible to postpone major transformations any longer.” “This,” he added, referring to the Fem Cultura plan, “is not a ‘bulletin’, it is not an improvisation, but it is the result of years of work that now the pandemic has shown us was absolutely necessary.”
The initiative does not remain this time within the rhetorical framework of good intentions. The Barcelona Cultural Rights Plan was born with a budget allocation of 68.7 million euros , of which 42.5 million come from the ordinary programs of the Institut de Cultura (Icub), 9.1 correspond to investment in new equipment and 17.1 are earmarked for the implementation of the plan.
And it covers a hundred concrete actions designed to guarantee citizen access to culture based on eight general principles: the promotion of diversity and multiculturalism, the defense of the Catalan language as an engine of social cohesion, the feminist perspective, transparency in management, transversality, decentralization, recognition of the metropolitan reality and sustainability.
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The delegate of Cultural Rights of the City Council, Daniel Granados , outlined some of those specific actions that, between next June and June of next year, will be launched under the umbrella of the new plan.
Among them, promoting the implementation of the sixth lesson time for artistic activities in public schools (a purpose that follows the model that is applied in the Nordic countries and that, in any case, must be endorsed and executed by the Generalitat, which is the one that has the powers to do so) and rethink the museum’s pricing and services policy of Barcelona in order to favor the access of the citizenship, with the horizon put in the gratuitousness (at least, in the visits to the permanent collections) as “a possible scenario”.
The House of Music
Other proposals whose execution does depend entirely on the city council are more advanced. Some examples of a very diverse nature: deploying a new scholarship program for creation and innovation in cultural practices, opening the Casa de la Música de Barcelona (in the current Barts hall) as the backbone of the city’s musical activity, creating a plan of artistic residencies (and go from the current five spaces to 20), design the program of the Biennial of Art Manifesta 2024, promote the already announced program of Official Protection Grounds with affordable rents for cultural uses, reinforce the Barcelona Districte program Cultural, expand the number of municipal schools of music and arts, create a program to promote and support urban art (which will have the El Cilindre de Horta center as a reference), draw up a municipal Charter of digital rights and promote the use of the complementary currency REC for participation in cultural activities.
It is just a small sample. All these actions and many more that today are in different phases of concretion and development will be included in nine government measures that will be presented and deployed in the course of the coming months and that respond to as many general lines of action: culture in neighborhoods and community action, grassroots culture and cultural sectors, popular cultures, culture and education, feminist culture, culture and public space, culture and digital rights, museums and libraries.
One hundred entities
In the presentation of the Fem Cultura project, Granados emphasized that the plan does not belong only to the municipal government, but is the result of contributions from “the entire social and cultural fabric of Barcelona . ”
Up to a hundred entities, organizations and companies that have participated to a greater or lesser extent in drawing up the plan appear in the project’s memory, a list that includes both institutions of the size and importance of the Gran Teatre del Liceu or the Sónar Festival such as the arpilleras group of Congrés-Indians or the association of young gypsy students of Bon Pastor Rromane Siklovne.
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The city council has lent its ears to all of them in order to incorporate their demands and their contributions to this ambitious plan that frames the entire cultural policy of the consistory in a dynamic of citizens’ rights. Fem Cultura is the result.